2007 Ford Edge
2007 Ford Edge. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Paul Williams

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San Francisco, California – San Francisco. It’s urban, fashionable, cosmopolitan, and trendsetting – which is why Ford chose this city as the location to launch its new “crossover” vehicle, the 2007 Ford Edge: a vehicle, that in Ford’s opinion, shares these same characteristics.

It’s about time, really, as Ford identifies the Nissan Murano as its main competition, and the Murano has been on the road for three years. Fashionably late, perhaps?

In any event, it’s here, and it’s built in Canada at the new “flexible” assembly line in Oakville, Ontario. But while Ford talks about the Edge as an iconic vehicle that shouts style and defines the new crossover segment (crossovers are basically SUVs built on a car platform, in this case the Mazda6), the reality is simpler than that. The Ford Edge is very good in many areas, should appeal to buyers interested in this kind of vehicle, but it will have to compete with a platoon of impressive crossovers and compact SUVs debuting for 2007.

2007 Ford Edge
U.S. Ford Edge marketing manager Jeri Ward. Click image to enlarge

Ford’s marketing manager for the Edge in the U.S. is Jeri Ward, who identified four key areas — safety, performance, design and value – that the company is highlighting for the Edge, and which she expects will set it apart from the competition.

Concerning safety, Ford has certainly got it right. You’ll find no safety options on the order sheet, as all Edge models come with standard anti-lock and four-wheel disc brakes, traction control, AdavanceTrac vehicle stability control, roll stability control, and front, side, and side curtain airbags.

Likewise, performance — or at least motive power — is another area that where the Edge doesn’t fall short. No four-cylinder engine or underpowered “six” is available under any Edge hood, as all come with a standard and new 3.5 litre, V6 engine making a healthy 265 horsepower and 250 pounds-feet of torque. This engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and buyers can choose between front-wheel drive (FWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) models. The powertrain is under warranty for five years or 100,000 kilometres.

2007 Ford Edge
2007 Ford Edge. Click image to enlarge

The Edge’s design is something that Ford executives regard as iconic and segment defining. They liken its distinctiveness to the unique shape of the Mustang (presumably those Mustangs that bookend that model’s long history). Their enthusiasm for the shape of the Edge was front and centre throughout the vehicle’s formal introduction, and key Ford designer Freeman Thomas was on hand to further explain the evolution of vehicle design from horse-and-buggy days, through to the CUV, and finally to the Edge. More on the design below.

The fourth area upon which Ford has focussed its attention is value, and for this type of vehicle, the numbers are competitive.
Ranging in price from $33,000 to $38,000, the front-wheel drive Edge arrives in two trim levels: the $32,999 SE and $35,999 SEL, with all-wheel drive adding $2,000. Optional are a Vista Roof (huge sunroof) for $1,700, navigation system for $2,700 (SE) or $2,300 (SEL), a $500 class II trailer-towing package that increases gross trailer weight from 2,000 pounds to 3,500 lbs, DVD entertainment system for $1,200 and a reverse sensing system (audio) for $320 (SE only).

Standard equipment on the SE model is comprehensive. In addition to the safety features listed above, it includes air conditioning, power windows, doors, locks; cloth upholstery with heated front seats, power driver’s seat, automatic transmission, centre console with deep bin that holds a laptop computer, 60/40 split folding and partially reclining rear seats and 17″ painted aluminum wheels, MP3 jack, satellite radio with six months free Sirius service, foglights, automatic climate control, chrome dual exhaust tips, block heater, and body coloured mirrors and bumpers with chrome grille and accents.

2007 Ford Edge
2007 Ford Edge. Click image to enlarge

The SEL model adds an “Audiophile” sound system, 18-inch chrome wheels (painted are optional), leather seat surfaces, reverse sensing system, electro-mechanical releases for folding one or both sides of the rear seat, accessible via a button at the rear of the vehicle; six-way power front passenger seat, and heated mirrors.

So attention to the four areas Ford mentions as the Edge’s key attributes — safety, performance, design and value – is clearly evident. But what about the subjective driving experience?

While the engine is powerful and typically quiet, the transmission is noteworthy for its super-smooth shifts and ability to quickly find the right gear in all driving conditions. There is no “manual” mode, but this transmission is almost as smooth as a CVT gearbox favoured by Nissan and General Motors for some of its SUVs.

But I didn’t find the driving dynamics of the Edge particularly performance-oriented. The front-wheel drive models tend to understeer when cornering and seem a bit sluggish, while the all-wheel drive versions are much better at slalom-like manoeuvres, as noted by several of the journalists that drove them on California’s twisting canyon roads. Both FWD and AWD models will pitch a little when the road becomes uneven, but overall the ride is very smooth indeed, and tuned more toward comfort. Notably, sound from the tires and engine barely intrudes into the cabin, which adds to the serene highway driving experience.

2007 Ford Edge
2007 Ford Edge. Click image to enlarge

The exterior design is distinctive, and works well, although the look of the Edge isn’t particularly “edgy,” at least to my eye. And no matter what the Ford executives say, it’s not ground breaking or category defining. It still looks to me like an SUV. A nice one – prettier than many – but an SUV nonetheless. Interestingly, it makes the Ford Escape, Canada’s best-selling SUV, look old-fashioned.

However, the dimensions are worth noting as they do diverge from competitors in several measurements. The Edge is closest in size to the Nissan Murano, and if you’re familiar with that rather large vehicle, it will give you a good sense of how the Edge compares. The Edge is considerably bigger than Honda’s new-for-2007 CR-V, for example, and a bit shorter than Toyota’s RAV4. It’s actually closer in size to the Toyota Highlander, although wider. Here are some comparisons to give you a better idea:

Ford Edge Nissan Murano Toyota RAV4 Toyota Highlander Honda CR-V
Length (mm) 4717 4765 4600 4680 4518
Width (mm) 1925 1880 1815 1826 1820
Height (mm) 1702 1709 1745 1735 1680
Wheelbase (mm) 2824 2824 2600 2715 2620

The interior is nicely designed, tidy and generally impressive. While parts of the door panels seem a little cheap, and the headliner under the big Vista Roof sagged a little in our test vehicle, the overall effect is one of quality, simplicity and comfort. Controls for climate and audio located on the centre stack are easy to see, use and are well-placed, in typical Ford style. As you might expect from the exterior dimensions, there’s good shoulder room inside.

The major gauges have a sophisticated look, but seem somewhat small. Rear seat room is very good and the front and outboard rear seats are substantial. The seatback for the centre seating position is hard, however, and likely wouldn’t be comfortable on a long trip.

Cargo space is generous behind the rear seat, which does fold almost flat to open up a vast space for luggage, sports gear, groceries. The front passenger seat of the SEL also folds almost flat, enabling you to carry long items like ladders, skis, or in the case of our Californian friends, surfboards.

2007 Ford Edge
2007 Ford Edge
2007 Ford Edge. Click image to enlarge

The rear liftgate is heavy, and there’s no power assistance available, but the opening is large and will enable you to transport big boxes, or bicycles without breaking them down.

The electro-mechanical “EasyFold” release for the rear seats is a great idea (it’s located just inside the rear door). Press the button, and the rear seat springs obediently forward to facilitate access to the rear. The system can have an attitude, though. Upon pressing the button in our test vehicle, “EasyFold” summarily ripped my colleague’s sports jacket from the rear cabin hook upon which it was hanging, tearing the jacket’s collar in the process.

Fortunately, being an automotive journalist’s jacket, it wasn’t a Hugo Boss.

But the jacket incident was more comic relief than a representation of the vehicle as a whole. In general, the Ford Edge is well put together, and is an encouraging effort from a company that’s been reporting less than stellar sales for quite a while.

Which brings me to a final comment. Ford executives know that the Edge is extremely important for the company. Ford of Canada’s American President, Bill Osborne, is a Ford man and a Canada fan, and the Edge is being released here on his watch. I must agree with him that the company has produced a very appealing vehicle that offers style, power, practicality and reasonable fuel economy. I expect we’ll see quite a few Ford Edges on Canadian roads.

But here’s a suggestion for Mr. Osborne: let’s have heated mirrors as standard equipment on the Edge SE in Canada, eh?

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